Managing Work Stress: Find Out What Works for You

Businesswoman working with eight hands, representing to very busy business concept.
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Businesswoman working with eight hands, representing to very busy business concept.Ashley PhillipsBy Ashley Phillips, Director of Executive Recruitment, Ashton Tweed

See this article on LinkedIn.

 

Every job has both stressful and calm periods, and life sciences companies can be especially demanding during various stages of the product development cycle. While a little bit of stress is healthy, too much stress can impact your health, well-being, and job performance in negative ways. It is important to properly acknowledge and address these stressful times in order to continue moving toward your goals.

 

One of the best ways to confront stress is to pinpoint the specific source. If you can address the source, you can potentially eliminate the stress altogether. For example, do you need to resolve a conflict with a coworker or get more clarity on a project? Are you managing your time poorly or prioritizing the wrong tasks? Some common sources of work stress include the following:

  • Unclear expectations
  • Underpaid
  • Overworked
  • Coworker/supervisor conflict
  • Fear of job loss
  • No room for growth
  • Lack of control
  • Pressure to improve performance

Sometimes your stress simply cannot be eliminated and therefore you must find a way to manage it. Different strategies work for different people, so review the management tactics below to see what’s right for you.

 

Respond to your body: Often your body will exhibit physical signs of stress, so it makes sense that taking care of your body can provide some relief. Stress may lead to bad habits like consuming junk food, alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine. Instead, treat your body to healthy food and exercise, including stretching and even meditation, to eradicate physical symptoms of stress. These practices will also help improve the quality of your sleep, leading to more energetic workdays.

 

Take time to relax: Overworking and never taking time to relax will only exacerbate your stress both in and out of the office. Take time after work and on weekends to participate in non-work activities. Whether this means family time, social outings, sports, or hobbies, these activities will have a rewarding and calming impact on your stress at work. Remember to minimize time spent on your phone/email to keep your mind stress-free during these times.

 

Talk it out: Perhaps an open conversation with your supervisor can help address the source of your stress. Or maybe communication in the office in general needs to be improved in order to eliminate unnecessary frustration. Every company wants the best performance from their employees and should recognize that stress can be inhibiting. Exposing an issue could be the first step toward solving it. Additionally, simply “talking it out” can be a stress reliever itself. Whether with a coworker or family and friends, it’s good to have a support system especially during times of need.

 

Adjust your outlook: Sometimes stress is self-imposed, so it’s best to eliminate stress-inducing behaviors and replace them with positivity. Behaviors like perfectionism, negative thinking, and trying to control the uncontrollable can lead to excessive stress. Some good advice: change your outlook. Instead of making mountains out of molehills, try to find positives or even humor in your situation. Remember your strengths and why you are good at your job. These behaviors are also contagious, so remove yourself from negative people who like to complain and surround yourself with positive voices. This approach could be applied to most matters in life!

 

Learn to say “no”: Some employees simply take on too much, whether they like to be in control or they don’t know how to say “no.” No one is expected to do everything, and too many priorities diminish the quality of work being completed, leading to additional stress. Instead, learn to turn down projects when your plate is full or delegate extra tasks to the appropriate personnel.

 

Take action: Stress about work is best relieved by getting the work done! So focus on the solution, not the problem. Start by getting organized, scheduling your day, and prioritizing your work by making a short to-do list of essential tasks. Then get it done! Make sure your goals for the day are realistic, and eliminate distractions and tasks that aren’t necessary. Sometimes cleaning your workspace or getting to work early can help you get a fresh start.

 

Stress rarely goes away on its own. It’s up to you to pinpoint the source of your stress and identify which stress management tactics work best for you. Keep in mind that a small amount of stress is normal and healthy because it pushes you to perform well, but too much stress can be detrimental to both your professional and personal life. Lastly, it might help to remember why you enjoy your job and what attracted you to this profession in the first place. Ask yourself how you can help serve the purpose you originally set out to achieve. This will help motivate you and possibly reignite your passion. If you have found other ways to manage stress, I’d love to hear them. Please share in the comments section below.

 

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Share your insights! Contact khoffman@ashtontweed.com to contribute your life sciences article as a guest writer.

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